“Growing Pains” alum Ashley Johnson was the one responsible for Gretchen Grundler’s vocals in all pieces of “Recess” media, and it doesn’t take a detective to notice how vastly they diverge in appearance. Johnson’s blonde hair, normal-sized teeth, and lack of comically large bifocals may not make her the best candidate for a live-action take on Gretchen, but her voice certainly did the trick. In fact, her tenure led her to become quite the prolific voice actress, popping up all over the cartoon landscape in the years following the 2001 finale of “Recess.”
With “Recess” in the rearview mirror, Johnson once again joined Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere on “Lloyd in Space” for a handful of episodes. She’d then turn her attention to “Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!,” “Teen Titans,” and “King of the Hill” for brief spells before returning to the Gretchen Grundler role in one installment of “Lilo & Stitch: The Series.” Arguably her most recognizable part is that of Gwen Tennyson on “Ben 10: Alien Force,” “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien,” and “Ben 10: Omniverse,” as well as several “Ben 10” video games.
Most recently, Johnson added “Close Enough” and “Family Guy” to her voice acting résumé and shows no sign of packing it in any time soon. Even though she doesn’t look or act anything like her, and her later gigs are much more widely remembered these days, Ashley Johnson will always be the one and only Gretchen Grundler. Simply put, “Recess” wouldn’t have been the same without her.